How to Win a Workers’ Compensation Case
Workers’ compensation insurance is provided through your employer, and covers your medical bills and living expenses if you are injured on the job. While the concept of workers’ compensation is straightforward, winning a workers’ compensation case is not always so easy. Even with a case that has plenty of evidence in your favor, there is often a chance that you won’t receive the full benefits of workers’ compensation. You must follow strict guidelines to qualify, and prove important details about your injury and resulting disability to win your case.
Part One of Four:
Documenting the Injury Edit
Confirm your injury is covered by workers’ compensation. Generally, your injury must be work-related, and you must work for a covered employer.
- An injury typically will be considered work-related if it occurs during the course and scope of your employment. Some injuries may not be included, however, depending on your state. For example, some states do not allow workers to claim workers’ compensation for stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, even if they can prove those injuries are work-related.
- However, other states permit recovery for psychiatric stress injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Talk with an attorney as soon as possible to find out if your injury is covered under your state’s workers’ compensation law. 
Seek medical assistance. Any injury threatens your health and should be treated immediately.
- Get copies of the medical records and save any and all bills. You will need these later.
- Take photographs of the injury, especially if your injury doesn’t show up on an X-ray or other medical scan.
Notify your employer. You must notify your employer of the injury within certain time limits. These limits vary by state, but it is best to notify your employer immediately after seeking medical assistance.
- Typically, you have between 30-45 days to notify your employer of an injury.  But some states allow only a couple of days.  Do not wait.
- Have a family member or friend immediately notify your supervisor if you cannot do so.
Write down how the injury happened. As soon as you feel well enough, take an hour to write out a description of how you injured yourself. Note who witnessed the injury and if any product or equipment injured you.
- If you were injured using a defective product, you might be able to bring a lawsuit for damages. Typically, workers’ compensation substitutes for a lawsuit against your employer. But if you were injured using a defective product, you may be able to sue the product manufacturer.
Notify your union. If you belong to a union, you should talk to your steward. Your union can provide invaluable help if your claim is later denied or if you face resistance from your employer.
Create a binder of your medical information. Include all doctor’s reports as well as bills for medical treatment. Also include any invoices sent to medical insurers.
- Make a second copy and secure in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box or in a relative’s home. Better yet, create digital copies by scanning.
Follow all medical advice. You are seeking compensation for the duration of your injury. If you do not follow a doctor’s advice, then you may be denied benefits.
- If you are told to stay in bed but decide to go to a baseball game, then you could forfeit benefits from the date you decided to ignore your doctor’s advice. Not only does following your doctor’s advice protect your health, but it also protects your eligibility for benefits.
- Employers have been known to hire private investigators to follow injured employees around and videotape their activities.  Any indication that you are not as injured as you claim will be used against you.
Attend an independent medical exam (IME). Some insurers or employers will require that you meet with a doctor of their choosing.  The insurer must pay for the examination, and the doctor should practice reasonably close to where you live (within 150 miles or so).
- If you fail to attend the IME, you could jeopardize your claim to benefits.